Amidst almost exclusively dingy bars, restaurants, and guest houses lies a bright beacon of health and cleanliness. Arya Ayurvedic gleams in comparison to its neighbours. (In fact the true grime isn’t really noticed until you emerge from the health haven.)
I’d heard of ayurvedic massage before but wasn’t entirely sure what I was in for. When two small lean women ushered me into a room I was skeptical – I enjoy a deep tissue massage over something a light touch. My uncertainty proved to be for naught. After applying sweetly scented oil, two pairs of hands work in perfect unison rubbing up and down your entire body in synchronized symmetry. Stopping only to drizzle more oil, the constant motion (almost that of waves in the ocean ebbing and flowing) creates a comforting heat. After the whole back (from soles of the feet to the top of the shoulders, one is turned and the front surface is likewise rubbed down. A scalp massage (not unlike one from a hair salon – my favourite part of a haircut) was next followed by a face massage, which used a fantastic fragranced oil and a decidedly delicate touch. I was left to relax for a few minutes before the team of magic hands returned to wipe down excess oil off my body. I emerged from the room totally relaxed with a body that had just experienced bliss.
As it was my birthday, I was convinced that what I really needed was a couples massage at this ayruvedic spa (though the true intent I felt wasn’t my massage at all). The vibe of the place seemed very official as we were informed that we would need to have a consultation with the Doctor before any procedures started. As we sat there and waited for our consultations, an Indian man who spoke no English came up and started to make hand gestures and noises at me to indicate I was supposed to follow. I feel at this point I should mention that this man had perhaps the worst case of lazy eyes I have ever seen. This is only relevant due to the fact that with no English in his repertoire, and no Hindi in mine, reading body language was an essential part of our communication. This was a virtually impossible task when I could not tell whether he was looking at me or expecting someone else to walk into the room as he made odd noises. So as I walked into the massage room, I saw the standard table, but instead of seeing a sheet to get under, I saw a tea towel. At this point in time I realized there would be no consultation with any Doctor. As my wide eyed friend started making more noises and gestures, I understood it was time to get naked and get under the tea towel. Surprisingly the table was pre-greased, and as I got on it, almost slid right off the other side.
What came next was this man rubbing an interesting and uncomfortable mix of oil and sand all over my body. The aggressive technique seemed to be designed to either remove my hair or my skin, I never figured out which. As I flipped back and forth, I couldn’t help wonder if the time was up and I could leave this oddly bizarre situation that I was now sure I no longer wanted. After a few more uncomfortable attempts at communication, the time thankfully came to an end. I was left standing in this room as I tried to towel off all the excessive oil I was covered with before I put my clothes back on. I went out to the main waiting area and tried to process the events that had just occured and whether it had any positive effects on either relaxing me and opening energy pathways or anything at all really. It was at this time that Emer managed to sneak up on me and scare the crap out of me just to make sure any positive effects were completely gone. At this moment I decided as it was my birthday, it was time to start doing what I wanted for my birthday. I walked straight into the restaurant and ordered the biggest beer I could find and started the process of forgetting the events of the day.